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Introduction One of the most debated topics within then this section of Philippians is the translation of πίστεως Χριστοῦ found in verse 9. The phrase can either be translated as an objective
genitive, “faith in Christ” or as a subjective genitive, “the faithfulness of Christ.”1 The weight of this question has to deal with what Paul was mentioning as the means of providing God’s righteousness in these cases. Was Paul speaking to the person’s faith of the believer as the mean by which the believer then receives the righteousness of God? Or does Paul desire to speak to Christ’s faithfulness that demonstrated the righteousness of God?2 It is important to note, though, that one’s acceptance of one usage is not a denial of the other one as part of one’s reading of Paul.3 The question is to what is the most probable meaning of the genitive construction where Paul used it.
A good summary of the history of this debate that spans continents can be found in James D. G. Dunn, “One More, ΠIΣΤΕΩΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟY,” The Society of Biblical Literature 1991 Seminar Papers, ed. Eugene H. Lovering, Jr (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press), 730-731.
Richard B. Hays, “ΠIΣΤΙΣ and Pauline Christology: What Is at Stake?” The Society of Biblical Literature 1991 Seminar Papers, ed. Eugene H. Lovering, Jr (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press), 715. Although, different scholars would find different emphases with the subjective rendering.
Moises Silva states these things when writing about Galatians 2-3. Moises Silva, “Faith Versus Works of Law in Galatians,” Justification and Variegated Nomism: Volume II-The Paradoxes of Paul, ed. D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Orien, and Mark A Seifrid (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 227-228. But it applies to the entire debate as well.
Galatians 2:16 (twice).” Harvard Theological Review 60 (1967): 459-460. Other arguments for the subjective reading are the context of Romans 3:22. A reference to the believer’s faith seems out of place.The phrase πίστεως ῦ ησο ῦ Χριστοῦ or πίστεως Χριστοῦ can be found in Romams 3:22. if he has just said. “Why should Paul add eis pantas tous pisteuontas. The verse reads. 5 Luke Timothy Johnson. 3:22. to take the genitive subjectively then there would be no redundancy. Eph 3:12 and Philippians 3:9. Scholars put forth several arguments as to why the construction should be translated subjectively. The phrase is used 24 times in Paul and “In all cases the phrase refers to the faith of the individual. “On the ‘Faith of Christ.” (Rom 3:22). instead. never faith in the individual. “Rom 3:21-26 and the Faith of Jesus” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44 (1982): 79. Then there is the charge of redundancy in Romans 3:22. Luke Timothy Johnson posses the question. Hays explains. Galatians. and Philippians translate a different way. When Paul uses the genitive after the word πίστις it refers to the faith of the person being referred to. If the objective genitive is used then Paul is redundant in saying how the righteousness of God is give to the believer. ‘through faith in Jesus Christ’”?5 If we were. “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. . “The emphasis of the whole passage is on God’s action in putting forward Jesus Messiah who enacts the faith-obedience that 4 George Howard.”4 Thus. it would be inconsistent to make the verse found in Romans. It is in these verses that the debate swells to whether Paul was referring to the faith the believer places in Christ or the faithfulness of Christ.
ed. The New International Greek Commentary. by I Howard Marshall and Donald A. Longenecker. 87-88. in Philippians 3:9 Paul is saying that the righteousness of God is manifested through the faithfulness of Christ. who thereby glorifies God as faithless human creatures had failed to do. O’Brien. vol 41. Then Hays also asks the question. ed. 8 When interpreting the passage in Galatians Longenecker defends the subjective use there by referring to the context and the seemingly normal usage of the phrase. It is not as if the objective use of the genitive with the πίστεως Χριστοῦ verses are an unheard of thing. 7 Ibid. Hubbard and Glenn W.”7 If the genitive is in the objective then the righteousness of God is displayed in the believer’s faith.” 721.”9 Objective Genitive We will now look at the arguments for the objective understanding of the genitive.8 Reasons such as these have convinced many scholars that the usage of πίστεως Χριστοῦ should be understood as subjective. This seems out of place where on the other hand Christ’s faithfulness makes a better manifestation of God’s righteousness. TX: Word Books. “The apostle is asserting that the righteousness he possesses is based on Christ’s faithful obedience to the Father—clear proof that Paul’s right relationship with God comes through sheer grace. MI: Wm. One can find uses of the genitive where it is objective. 1990). 2000). Richard N. “ΠIΣΤΙΣ and Pauline Christology. Word Biblical Commentary. Barker (Dallas. 399-400. by David A.Israel failed to render. 9 Peter T. Many scholars still hold to the traditional understanding of genitive for these reasons. In Mark 11:22 we 6 Hays. “What would it mean to say that God’s justice has been made manifest through out act of believing in Jesus Christ. Galatians.”6 Thus it seems out of place to interject a statement about the faith of the believer when the passage seems to speak about the faithfulness of the Savior. Thus. The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Hagner (Grand Rapids. . B.
ed. Fee (Grand Rapids.13 Thus.’ Who would argue buy cannot mean the same as purchase because that would make the sentence redundant. 88. 1 12 It should be noted that the charge of redundancy is already a weak charge.” 232. “Take the following statement: ‘when I heard that one could purchase the car at a special price. 1 11 Silva. Thus. “καῦ ῦ με ῦ ς εῦ ς Χριστῦ νῦ ησο ῦ νῦ πιστεύσαμεν. Just because Paul uses to different terms to refer to the same action in no way means he is being redundant. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. “Paul in effect exegetes the construction [πίστεως ῦησοῦ Χριστοῦ]. “ῦ χετε πίστιν θεοῦ . Gordon D. F.’ following immediately upon the present phrase ‘though faith in Christ Jesus. Bruce.” The genitive construction has to be taken as a genitive here. Ward Gasque (Grand Rapids. The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. 14 . Longenecker makes no mention of this problem in his commentary. ed. In Philippians 3:8 the genitive construction τῦ ςγνώσεως Χριστοῦ ῦ ησο ῦ has to be read as an objective genitive. there is never a clear reference to the faith of Christ by Paul while Christians’ belief is a clear theme. 2001). Eerdmans Publishing Company.12 But here redundancy cannot be understood. Schreiner.”10 The second example is Galatians 2:16 where Paul makes the statement. B. MI: Wm. “there is no grammatical reason for ruling out [an objective] reading in Philippians 3:9. “the fact that the clause ‘we too have put our faith in Jesus Christ. The Epistle to the Galatians. 1 10 Thomas R. 1988). 1982). 213. Two very important examples come within the same context of πίστεως Χριστοῦ passages. I decided to buy it. Fung. See also. Ill: InterVarsity Press. MI: Wm. with this usage we have an exact usage of the genitive as an objective genitive with πίστεως Χριστοῦ. Longenecker.”11 The only charge that can be brought against this fact is the charge of redundancy. The New International Greek Commentary. K.” Ronald Y. Eerdmans Publishing Company. One can also find examples in Acts 3:16 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13. 115. B.” This is immediately after giving us the πίστεως ῦησοῦ Χριστοῦ construction. Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (Downers Grove.14 While on the other hand. by I Howard Marshall and W. What is the problem with Paul wanting to repeat himself for emphasis? 1 13 Silva provides an excellent example.read. 139.’ puts is beyond reasonable doubt that Cristou Iesou is to be construed as objective genitive. Galatians. Silva comments. “Faith Versus Works of Law in Galatians. Added to the above argument. Ronald Fung remarks. F. Through out many writings in the New Testament faith is understood as an action by the believer directed towards God. and that therefore buy must have a different meaning?” Ibid.
1 16 Roy A. The contexts in which the phrase is found admit of no such interpretation. The first is that it shows the objective genitive can be naturally read in these situations. o Silva gives a list of examples.”16 This is important in two areas.“we cannot find even one unambiguous reference to the πίστις that belongs to Christ. The clinching point is the fact that it is the obvious reading in Galatians 2:16. When weighted against one another the objective genitive seems to come out as the most probable reading of the πίστεως Χριστοῦ construction. “ΠIΣΤΕΩΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟY:Witness of the Fathers.. that those closest to the Greek of Paul read these texts as objective. Silva. Harrisville III. From the writings of the Greek Fathers we can clearly see that they could understand the genitive as objective. Roy Harrisville makes this observation from his studies in the Greek Fathers about this issue. there is no clear and unambiguous indication of any subjective understanding.”15 Therefore. there is clear evidence in both Greek and Latin authors of an understanding of the phrase in an objective sense. 3 (1994): 241. On the other hand. it would have been much more natural for the readers to understand the genitive as referring to faith acted by the believers in Christ. “Faith Versus Works of Law in Galatians. This is exactly how it seemed to be when looking at the Greek Fathers. “When employing the πίστις Χρίστου formulation. rather than the faith of Christ. . And second.” 230-231 1 15 Ibid. When coupled with the other arguments it answers the objections and shows why it fits in the writings of Paul.” Novum Testamentum 36. 231.
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